Older Adults and Multiple Sclerosis

Marge had lived with multiple sclerosis for a decade before her symptoms deteriorated to the point where she needed to use a wheel chair. Although she lived alone with assistance from health aides, she was fortunate that she had many friends and didn’t fear isolation. She used a local van service and was able to get around her small city.

A few months after she began using her wheel chair, she had another exacerbation of symptoms, this time producing pain, fatigue, and some cognitive impairment. This time, she began to feel fear. Marge was fortunate that the friend she confided in, Julia, was as eager to think of actions that might help as she was interested in hearing out Marge’s feelings.

Julia suggested that Marge convene a group of her friends on the first Sunday evening of the month for pot luck dinner and healing conversation. Whatever that meant. They would experiment and see.

Curious, Marge agreed to propose the idea to a few people. She was thrilled and grateful that everyone she asked agreed to attend the “healing circle.”

The first Sunday of the next month, eight women gathered in Marge’s small living room, eating plates of delicious food they had brought to share. After dessert, Julia took the lead in forming the circle. She suggested they take a moment in silence. Marge then played a track from a music CD that she had found inspirational. Several women told anecdotes about friends of theirs who were struggling with illness and one woman read a poem. After an hour of conversation that had laughter as well as tears, Julia suggested that they all hold hands and send a current of love and support through the circle.

At the end of the evening, Marge was beaming. “I cannot thank you enough for coming,” she declared. Each one replied that she too felt lighter and better for having been at the healing circle.

The effect on Marge was profound. She replayed each monthly meeting and looked forward to the next. She enjoyed musing about and planning what she would bring to the group. And she especially loved talking to her friends about the healing circle and learning the ways the ripples extended far beyond her living room.

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